A RETIRED war correspondent and his ex-councillor wife were barred from swotting up on Croydon wildlife for "health and safety" reasons.
Peter Gillman, 71, and his wife Leni, 69, were enjoying a leisurely Sunday afternoon looking at displays in South Norwood Country Park's visitor centre, when the park keeper asked them to leave in case they slipped on grease from a chainsaw.
Mr Gillman said: "He said this was on the grounds of health and safety – yes, he used those words. He said there were some power tools in the room.
"I looked and there was an electric saw which was wrapped up and lying under a table. I asked him if he thought I was going to unwrap it and cut my leg off.
"We left the room and I again questioned why we had been turned out of the room. He said that he had to watch his back in case, for example, we slipped on some grease in the room and fell over. I had seen no grease on the floor or any other hazardous substance.
"But at this point any further argument seemed pointless."
The trip had extra importance for Mr Gillman as he begins to walk again, three months after a knee operation.
The couple, who regularly visit the park, had finished a quick stroll around and were pleasantly surprised to see the visitor centre open. Due to cutbacks, the centre is only open to the public for four hours a fortnight at the weekend.
Mr Gillman added: "The informative panels displaying things such as the park's flora and fauna inside the centre are delightful.
"The park keeper was very pleasant when we spoke to him, but as soon as we entered this unlocked room, he was quite brusque.
"To say that I could not manage walking around a school reading room is ludicrous."
"The episode left us feeling rather sour after a very enjoyable afternoon."
Croydon Council said the room is a shared space not for public entry, and that the door should have had a sign on it.
A council spokesman said: "The area the couple entered is used as a workspace in off-season and as a teaching space the rest of the time.
"There will have been tools lying around and so the member of staff asked them to leave.
"If they wish to make a formal complaint, then they should contact the council's parks department."